I was a proud co-sleeper from the time my oldest was born until our family of four could no longer comfortably sleep in the same room. If I am being honest, it was a little past the time that we were no longer sleeping comfortably. If you also share a room or a bed with your baby, you are probably beginning to worry about the things your baby will do when you stop co-sleeping, even if you aren't ready to transition just yet.
You shouldn't feel guilty about being ready to have your own space back, especially if you have more than one child in your room or if you have been co-sleeping for several years. Extended co-sleeping works for some families, but it can be a strain on others. Because co-sleeping babies tend to think of their mommies as open-all-night all you can eat buffets, it's perfectly normal for you to want to reclaim your bed and body and make the bedroom a grown-up sanctuary again.
It may take some work, but it is possible to get your baby to sleep in his own room. What can you expect from the transition? Here are some things that can happen once you decided to stop co-sleeping.
1. Your Baby May Resist
Be prepared for the possibility that you may have to get up to soothe your baby several times overnight at first. If you've made up your mind about no longer co-sleeping, you will have to be patient and stick it out until your baby starts sleeping through the night. As Craig Canapari, a pediatrician at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, wrote on his site, "if you relent even once in a while during the process of establishing a new sleeping pattern, you will reinforce the behavior you are trying to extinguish."
2. Your Baby May Need To Night Wean
If your child no longer needs to nurse overnight, but continues to do so because of the easy access provided by co-sleeping, you may want to consider night-weaning. Kim West, a licensed clinical social worker and a child and family therapist encourages nursing moms to night wean before transitioning your child into their own bed. Babies who don't expect to eat during the night are more likely to stay in bed and sleep throughout the night.
3. Your Baby May Need A Lovey
If your toddler doesn't use a comfort object, such as a stuffed animal or a blankie, this may be the time to introduce one. What To Expect suggested tucking baby in with one of your T-shirts or night gown to help baby feel as though you still nearby.
4. Your Baby May Need New Sleep Associations
Sleep associations are items your baby thinks he needs in order to fall asleep. It can be rocking, nursing, lullabies, or even simply lying in bed next to Mom. Once you decide to stop co-sleeping, you will have to teach your baby new sleep associations that you are willing to keep up with. Don't introduce rocking if you won't be able to keep up with it. The key, according to The Baby Sleep Site, is to allow the baby to fall asleep the same way they will wake up throughout the night. If they wake up and find you gone, or the movement has stopped, or they are missing their paci, they will cry as a way to call out for help.
5. Your Baby May Be Totally Cool With The Move
Although rare, some babies take to sleeping on their own without a hitch. This is especially true if your baby has been sleeping in a bassinet or crib in your room rather than in your bed. Transitioning your baby or toddler from your bed into a crib or toddler bed that you keep in your room can make moving your him into his own room easier because he will already be used to sleeping in that bed.